GP opening hours back in spotlight
GPs will be asked to substitute daytime opening hours for evening and Saturday sessions as part of a series of Government proposals aimed at im- proving access.
The end of 'open but full' status and provision of more information to patients on GPs' services and hours will also be implemented before 2008/9.
Further plans for the next two years include allowing booking in walk-in centres and with out-of-hours providers.
The Department of Health has pledged to issue PCTs with guidance on how GPs can substitute weekday hours in order to open later.
But GPs said any changes to opening hours, notably Saturday opening, would have to be renegotiated.
Dr Niall Finegan, a GP in Salford, said: 'Do they know what they are doing?
'They renegotiated the contract with us and took us out of out--of-hours and now they want to put us back in it.'
Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC negotiator, said PCTs could already provide services outside normal hours through local enhanced services.
He added: 'More funding to increase capacity and invest
in premises would help in
tackling the open but full list problem.'